Loving Yourself At Every Stage Part 1

Loving yourself at every stage

I know this title “loving yourself at every stage” is a little vague, so let me explain what I mean by it. I originally wanted to write a post about my journey with weight loss, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how my weight loss really had very little to do with my focus on actually losing weight. And I don’t want to write a post that’s just about how I gained 30 pounds and then what I did to lose it. Because the journey was so much more than that. I also want to note that I am not here to say anyone should lose weight. You know your body better than anyone, and you should do what makes you feel good. This is simply my own experience and journey, and the advice that I do feel I have enough experience to share. My main piece of that advice, that I think applies to most everyone, is the importance of loving yourself at every stage. 

I actually began to write this last week, and now that Halloween has passed it feels more relevant than ever. I’m seeing so many posts about how people feel bad for eating like shit/going out/not sleeping enough this past weekend. And I totally get it. BUT. I also want to take a moment to say…great work. You are LIVING. Assuming you did what you wanted to and had a good time, I think it’s cruel to turn around the next day and get down on yourself for it. Sure, you might feel like shit, but that’s no reason for regret. You had a great time, and in a couple days you’ll be back to feeling more like yourself. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend living the holiday celebration lifestyle every weekend, but my god if you have a reason to celebrate and that’s how you want to do it-  do it! Your best self can take place in many forms- let your inner party woo! girl be one of them, if that’s what you want, and then get back to the best self version of you that drinks lots of water and gets into bed at a reasonable hour. You can do both. 

With that being said… I also want to say that stage, in this context, doesn’t just pertain to a body. It also pertains to the mind and where you are in life, exactly at this moment. Appreciating every little thing, even if it’s not exactly how you think it “should” be. For most of my life, I’ve never had to worry about what I ate or whether my clothes would fit me the same or not the next time I tried them on. I was blessed with a mother who was super into health and so I ate home-cooked meals most nights of the week and “junk” food was a rarity. Then, at 18, I moved out of my parents’ house and into an apartment with two of my besties from high school. Our grocery list usually consisted of top ramen and fruit roll-ups- partially due to finances, partially because of inexperience with cooking, but mostly because that’s just what we wanted. And, because I was still a teenager, I got away with it. I never fluctuated weight, but I most certainly was not healthy. 

I remember vividly being the smallest I’ve ever been at 22, at the same time that I was going through a terrible break up. I had zero appetite and felt miserable. But, just a few weeks later, a new kind of anxiety set in and I wound up finding great comfort in food. I’d constantly think about what I was going to eat next, almost as a form of distraction from all the things I didn’t want to deal with. Or a way to feel better in the situation I had found myself in: broken-hearted, broke, living in a bedroom in someone else’s home, and still trying to graduate from college. I was so frustrated with myself and unhappy with where I was during that time period, and, before I knew it, (and to top it all off) I could barely squeeze into my jeans.

I was shocked. I had never had something like this happen before. I couldn’t believe that my body would betray me like that, but what I soon came to realize was that I was the one actually doing the betraying. I’d been disconnected from my body most of my life- never having to think about it much- and now it was sending a message loud and clear. This is the turning point in my life where I finally started treating my body the way it deserved, and doing what made me FEEL good. 

At the end of that year, and after 5 years of living outside of my parent’s home, I decided it was time to go back. I had fought going back so many times, swearing my independent self would figure it out and make it work, but I was tired. My body and mind needed a break. My Dad helped me pack and home we went. I still remember that first night, my Mom making me some tea and everything feeling so much calmer. I felt like I could take a deep breath. I wasn’t swimming upstream anymore, I was flowing with the current. 

This was all at the beginning of 2016, and, at the beginning of that year, I vowed to myself that I’d get back to a place I was proud of. But, what I was surprised to learn as the year progressed, was that I could be proud of myself for being right where I already was. Had I not loved myself enough to know it was time to go home, I wouldn’t have given myself the opportunity to focus on ME. And that alone, was something to be proud of. During that year I went gluten and dairy free, began paying more attention to macros and eating more nutrient-rich foods. I broke the relationship I’d had with food, where I saw it as a comfort, and built a new one focused around fueling my body with what it needed to perform well and feel good. No, this wasn’t some quick diet fix- I’d committed to switching my lifestyle completely, because I wanted the way I felt to last. 

I also began working out regularly each week, and, thanks to one of my closest friends, I became more and more comfortable and consistent at the gym. That was actually the most consistently I’d ever worked out on my own, and it felt so good to show my body that love. At first, I had started eating well and working out to lose weight, but the more I did it, the more I loved my body for exactly where it was. Because I was taking care of it and showing it the love it deserved, our relationship changed. I no longer needed my body to look a certain way, I had learned how to feel comfortable in it and appreciate it for all it had done for me.

Oddly enough, this year of progress ended up being one of the happiest years of my life. A year I had dreaded because I was afraid I’d fail, yet ended up feeling strong and energized. I got a job where I was finally making money again, I had an internship and was on track to graduate college at the end of the year. Everything felt like it had fallen into place. Don’t get me wrong, it was really hard, but my perspective had changed everything. I was taking care of me, and that’s what kept me going. 

More on that next week <3

Does this story resonate with you? Would love to hear your experiences.

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